Pakistan’s latest headache – rising unemployment: Why has CPEC failed to generate mass scale jobs?


By Mahua Venkatesh

New Delhi, Oct 4: The recent unemployment data in Pakistan will haunt Prime Minister Imran Khan. Data shared by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) showed that a whopping 24 per cent of people who have at least an undergraduate degree — are without a job. The figure does not give the true picture. Many unemployed educated people have enrolled themselves for higher education “out of desperation and in hopes of getting jobs in the future.”

So, the actual figure could be even higher.

For Khan, the data will cause embarrassment as he has repeatedly said that the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would push socio-economic development leading to mass scale job generation.

Clearly, CPEC has failed to boost employment in Pakistan.

What has gone wrong?

“CPEC in its present form has limited ability to be a job generator. It is fallacy that CPEC would lead to employment generation. Substantial CPEC investments have gone into building roads and highways and therefore these are not job multipliers. While a few power plants under the CPEC have now started operations, these will be one time job generators. Until there are industries, large scale jobs will not be generated,” Rajiv Dogra, former diplomat and foreign affairs commentator told India Narrative. He added that in terms of statistics, Pakistan is an opaque society and the employment data does not include several sectors including agriculture.

Dogra also said that the CPEC projects have high interest rates and the chunk of the revenue that is generated goes to the Chinese, leaving little for the Pakistanis.

Insiders said that unemployment among educated people is becoming a “massive issue” within Pakistan leading to resentment among the locals.

To add to the problems, CPEC is primarily controlled and run by the Chinese.

In the previous financial year – July to June, the total FDI inflow was estimated at $1.87 billion down from $2.598 billion in the previous year. While Covid 19 pandemic and the subsequent worldwide restrictions led to a slowdown in the FDI flow, there are enough indications to show that investments into the much hyped project has been slowing down.

China, which is Pakistan’s largest investor, has expressed its concerns over the deteriorating security situation after a spate of terror attacks.

A chunk of overall FDI flows into Pakistan comes from China and is directed towards the CPEC.

Santander Trade—economic data and information portal said that “significant security risk due to the operations of terrorist organisations” is attached to Pakistan. Besides, a high risk of corruption — Pakistan has not signed the OECD Anti-Corruption Convention — is also a cause for concern which acts as a deterrent for foreign companies to come into the country.

“Unfortunately, the situation of unemployment has reached such a critical threshold that thousands of degree holders are applying to lower staff positions in different institutions around the country. The dearth of opportunities has left them paralysed,” the Express Tribune said.

 



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